Setting Up A Reloading Area On A Budget
When I first got the itch to start reloading, I knew I had to set aside some space, a neat, tidy space. After a few false starts making a space in the garage I started a burn pile in the backyard (While my wife was away!) and started getting rid of boxes of domestic clutter that we had been storing away to sort through ‘someday’. Forgiveness is somehow easier to obtain than permission.
A suitable space along one wall emerged. Soon it had a four drawer wood bench from Harbor Freight that was purchased with one of the rare 25% Off coupons that can be used for tool storage, although they run $120 coupons fairly often. Steel “L” brackets were added to the back legs attaching them more securely to the lower shelf. The bench was already pretty rigid, the brackets made it more so. It is not optimal, but I could not have hardly built it from lumber and drawer hardware for less money, much less put it together in an hour: you will see this theme recurring as I go along.
I went to JoAnn Fabric and Crafts and picked up some felt and duct tape to cover the top. The thinking was that it would stop small parts from rolling off and into the floor, which it does. In hindsight I should have covered it with heavy denim material as the felt fuzzes off, pills and gets snagged on things. A scale pan can sit atop a ball of pilled fuzz and cause havoc dialing in a charge. I now have a square of linoleum that my scale sets atop.
The actual bench top is about 3/4″ thick particle board laminate topped. Thus far it has been sufficiently strong to hold my Lee Breechlock Challenger lag bolted down with no signs of the lag bolts pulling out. That said, if I start sizing something tougher than .223, it may be an issue. If so I’ll probably add a 3/4″ maple laminate plywood top secured with liquid nail and wood screws from below.
A Harbor Freight vise, power strip and storage bins came along a month or so before the Lee Breechlock Challenger kit. I’m getting ahead of myself, but this gives an idea where I am heading. The wood block is my first gen AR magazine well vise block. It was eventually replaced with a polymer vise block, but actually works well.
So there it is, my general purpose home workbench for reloading and gun building.
I owned a Marlin 60 since 1987, but never really got ‘into’ guns until 2011 when I bought my first 9mm pistol. That was soon followed by a .380 and a 12 guage pump, and I was all in. I had done some 20 guage reloading growing up, and threw myself into 9mm and .223 reloading in 2017, .380 in 2019 and 7.62×39 in 2020. It is so satisfying to go to the range and string together ever improving groups with ammo I loaded myself; it doesn’t hurt that I’m a little OCD about technical things, the tangible/visible rewards are really gratifying.
I have a nagging but as yet unattained ‘want’ for a .358 Yeti unloader, it just looks like a really cool caliber. My next learning curve, space permitting, is casting and coating.